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Sexual Health Group Supports Compulsory Sex Ed

7th December 2000

Sexual Health Group Supports Compulsory Sex Education In Schools

Te Puawai Tapu whole-heartedly supports the government’s plan to make sex education compulsory in schools. The Education Minister, Trevor Mallard has confirmed the government will be pushing new laws through Parliament before Christmas to make sex education compulsory in all public schools. The Tumuwhakahaere of Te Puawai Tapu, Pania Ellison welcomes the government’s response to the sexual and reproductive health crisis facing Maaori.

While New Zealanders have the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the developed world and high rates of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) Maaori rates are worse. Pania says “We hear people talking about the growing number of teenagers having sex in their early teens and how terrible it is, well many of those kids are Maaori. Maaori are almost five times more likely to have a baby than non-Maaori teenagers. If the government is serious about “Closing The Gaps” between Maaori and non-Maaori it should make Maaori sexual and reproductive health a national priority.”

Te Puawai Tapu’s convenor, Irihapeti Ramsden says there’s also an urgent need for a national strategy on Maaori sexual and reproductive health. “The government is currently developing a national strategy on sexual and reproductive health but it must recognise the critical need for Maaori to have a separate strategy.”

Medical Advisor for Te Puawai Tapu, Dr. Papaarangi Reid says any strategy must meet Maaori needs and be real. “A range of approaches are required if you going to acheive this. But the greatest priority is to provide a safe place for young people to have an informed and informative discussion about sexual and reproductive health. Sexual and reproductive health has been in danger of being taken over by romantics who either want to romanticise or “religi-cise” one of life’s basic functions.”

Te Puawai Tapu is a national Maaori health organisation committed to improving the sexual and reproductive health of Maaori. It advocates for policy change at a national level and it runs sexuality education programmes in the community which are aimed at Maaori youth.

Te Puawai Tapu’s celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this Friday (8th December at 5.30pm) and opening a new seminar room to accomodate the growing demand for Te Puawai Tapu’s sexuality education programmes. Associate Health and Associate Maaori Affairs Minister, Tariana Turia will be the key note speaker.

For more information and to arrange media interviews, please contact Sandi Barr.

PH: 04 386 2634, FX: 04 386 2648, EM:

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